8 TOPEKA BUSINESSES PPCruisers
Air Kelly Part metalsmith, part pilot, a local businessman creates and markets an innovative aircraft—PPCruisers
Ken Kelly stands with his latest product, a PPCruiser II SxS.
“Clear skies, altitude 2,000 feet and beginning a power-off death spiral. My passenger and I are spiraling downward at 800 feet a minute when we’re violently rocked by turbulence from out of nowhere and, what’s worse, we’re now climbing. “The crazy swinging and rocking stops and we stabilize, still climbing. I level off and move away to start our descent again, and at 400 or so feet it happens again. “We manage to get down on the ground after scaring every one of our ground crew and friends—but not before we crisscrossed the sky in that area half a dozen times and analyzed the turbulence. My passenger loved it. Two fronts colliding, in a clear blue sky, over water, both moving at the same speed toward one another, creating a stationary oscillating layer of turbulence with really aggressive uplift.”
ike all pilots, Ken Kelly has his stories. But this story trumps them all. Not because of the drama and the Bam! Pow! narration, though these certainly entertain, and not because he was cruising through the air in his selfbuilt powered parachute, but because the story gives insight into what Kelly is all about: He would fly through this air space again and again, testing the turbulence simply because he needed to know what was causing it. Some people won’t take “no” or “I don’t know” for an answer when a problem
TOPEKAMAGAZINE Spring 2009
STORY BY Vernon McFalls | PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Dailey